Don't Be A Chicken, Spatchcock!

I know there are a lot of backyard BBQ/Grillers out there that swear by “beer can” chicken.  This is the technique that requires placing a can of some liquid up the chickens rear end.  Although many claim this provides additional flavor and moisture when cooking I’m of the school of thought that this technique actually does absolutely nothing.  No additional flavor, no additional moisture, just a cute way to cook your chicken.  I believe the best way to cook your chicken is by spatchcock. (For a good definition and discussion of the word Spatchcock check out The Naked Whiz.

For some it may seem hard to spatchcock a chicken, but it’s really not all that hard.  There are lots of videos and other pictures out there on the internet that tell you how.  I figured I show how easy it is with a minimalistic view.

After you’ve removed all the offal (guts and stuff) trim all the excess fat and skin that is normally around the chicken cavity.  Nothing hard so far…right?

Don’t worry about making it perfect.  This is backyard grilling, we aren’t talking Four Star restaurant.  Just get it done and be happy with it.


Here comes the hardest part, and as you’ll see it’s not all that hard.  Take your kitchen shears and cut down one side of the breast bone.  Make sure you cut as close as you can to the center of the bird.  Cut all the way through to the neck.  When you’ve finished with one side, cut out the other side.

Once you’ve cut out both sides of the backbone the chicken will lay some what flat just like the picture on the right.

Turn the chicken over.  Push down with a little force on the leg/thigh joints so the chicken will lay even flatter.  There!  You’ve spatchcocked a chicken.  Piece of cake!

Now just season the chicken like you normally would, on both sides, and grill or smoke just like you normally do.  One of the advantages to this method is, in my opinion, the chicken will cook evenly and you have a better chance of getting a perfectly cook (done) chicken.

Give it a try!

8 Comments on Don't Be A Chicken, Spatchcock!

  1. I’m in your camp regarding beer (or other beverage) butt chicken. About the only thing it accomplishes is an unstable platform and a waste of an otherwise good beverage. Spatchcocking is the way to go, and isn’t that difficult.

  2. Larry, this is awesome. I first discovered the spatchcock method watching Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” program – the Bird in the Pan episode. Good stuff!

  3. You definitely made that look easy! I’ll definitely have to give that a shot. How long does it take to cook the bird using this method?

  4. It looks to me like you’ve cut along the breastbone and not the backbone. I’ve seen a turkey done with the backbone removed. That would probably work with a chicken too.

    • Ed, you are 100% correct. I guess I had a little brain fart there. I’ll correct that.

  5. I made spatchcock the other night and it turned out great. When you go to the store and buy a whole chicken, it can be a little intimidating to think you are going to put the whole thing in the grill but it turns out super juicy and moist and will feed a family :)

  6. we just grilled some quail like this – they are so tiny they must be grilled flat – super with fresh chopped garlic, olive oil and parsley.

    Take a look at our Vermont Country Grillstone – the flat stone surface will keep those juices on the bird!

  7. Spatchcocking is my preferred way of cooking chicken too. What are your thoughts on opening up the birds breast instead of the spine? Are there advantages or is it just a preference thing?

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